Dark Star Brewery is gearing up to open its first bottle shop and tasting room, which will be in the West Sussex town of Crawley.

The site, which will operate under the name the General Store, is a new concept for the company and one that it hopes to recreate in other areas.

James Cuthbertson, director at Dark Star, told OLN: “We were looking at Crawley for our next pub site but we found there were so few pubs on the market without horrendous leases, so we looked at doing something a bit different instead.

“Our brewery shop does really well so we decided to go back to the old style of really great off-licences.

“It will contain two long tables and people can have wine or beer to take away or drink on site. We will include an education element and there will be tasting nights. It will also have a delivery service for the local area.

 “The demographics in Crawley are great. It has low unemployment and a high net wage. There are lots of opportunities and it should work.

“These concepts are already in London and we definitely want to explore more areas. We opened pubs in the Sussex towns of Haywards Heath and Horsham, so Crawley was next on the list.

“We would love to find a site in Brighton, where the company started, or nearby Hove. If money wasn’t an issue I would open in Hove tomorrow, but venues are expensive and hard to find.”

The company has a partnership with Bibendum to supply wine and wine tasting events for the new store. Around 40% of the store will be beer, 40% wine and 20% spirits.

“Beer will be a mixture of cask, keg, can and bottle,” said Cuthbertson. “We will have fresh beers – six in cask and eight in kegs. It will be a good selection from great brewers around the country, and 20% will be Dark Star beers.

“Growlers do amazingly well in our brewery shop. We will also have a bank of fridges for cans and bottles. We sell these in our pubs so we know which do well.”

The General Store, due to open on Crawley High Street in May, will also sell cheese and charcuterie to have on-site.